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NBC Touts Obama's 'Strong Message' to Senate GOP: 'Don't Mess With My U.N. Ambassador'

Striking a sympathetic tone toward the U.N. ambassador on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams lamented: "It was another one of those days for Susan Rice....who again found herself today in the middle of a power struggle between some Republicans on the Hill on one side, and the President..." [Listen to the audio]

In the report that followed, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell eagerly described a moment in a recent Obama cabinet meeting: "With Hillary Clinton nodding her approval, the President sent a strong message to Senate Republicans, 'Don't mess with my U.N. Ambassador.'" Mitchell observed: "For Rice, a welcome signal that her nomination is still alive, despite another brutal day on Capitol Hill."

After fretting over Rice having to answer tough questions about Benghazi, Mitchell wondered: "Why is Susan Rice such a lightning rod?" The story suddenly became a biographical puff piece: "Even at 5'3," as a star point guard for Washington's elite National Cathedral School, she's been confrontational. A Stanford grad and Rhodes scholar, she was a political combatant for Democrats, including John Kerry, now her rival to become secretary of state. In Bill Clinton's state department, she was in charge of African policy, including controversial decisions on Sudan."

Here is a full transcript of the November 28 segment:

7:06PM ET

BRIAN WILLIAMS:  It was another one of those days for Susan Rice. She's the U.N. Ambassador who again found herself today in the middle of a power struggle between some Republicans on the Hill on one side, and the President, who by all accounts would like to nominate her as the next secretary of state. Our chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell has our report.

ANDREA MITCHELL: With Hillary Clinton nodding her approval, the President sent a strong message to Senate Republicans, "Don't mess with my U.N. Ambassador."

BARACK OBAMA: Susan Rice is extraordinary. I couldn't be prouder of the job that she's done.

[OBAMA CABINET APPLAUDS]

MITCHELL: For Rice, a welcome signal that her nomination is still alive, despite another brutal day on Capitol Hill.

SUSAN COLLINS [SEN. R-ME]: The U.N. Ambassador decided to play what was essentially a political role at the height of a contentious presidential election campaign.

BOB CORKER [SEN. R-TN]: I would just ask the President to step back for a moment, and realize that all of us here hold the secretary of state to a very different standard than most cabinet members.

MITCHELL: Why is Susan Rice such a lightning rod? Even at 5'3," as a star point guard for Washington's elite National Cathedral School, she's been confrontational. A Stanford grad and Rhodes scholar, she was a political combatant for Democrats, including John Kerry, now her rival to become secretary of state. In Bill Clinton's state department, she was in charge of African policy, including controversial decisions on Sudan. Today, Republicans also blamed her for another security failure, the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania 14 years ago.

And politics can be personal. In the 2008 Obama campaign, Rice ridiculed John McCain for wearing a flack jacket on a Baghdad walking tour while claiming Iraq was safer.

Tonight Hillary Clinton also praised Rice. Still, some Democrats argue nominating Rice would prolong the Benghazi controversy, while John Kerry could be easily confirmed. And tonight, other officials indicate a Republican, former Senator Chuck Hagel, is also being vetted for a possible job on the foreign policy team. Brian.

WILLIAMS: Andrea Mitchell in our DC newsroom tonight. Andrea, thanks.

-- Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow him on Twitter.